How to run your home business during the school holidays
One of the great things about having your own business - and in fact, one of the reasons why so many parents become their own boss - is that you don’t have to stress about taking time off when the kids are sick or on school holidays.
That said, one of the challenges of working from home is not losing focus or momentum in your business when the kids are at around.
Here are some of the ways you can enjoy lots of time with your kids over the holidays, without having to close your business.
Team up with work-at-home friends
I’ve made a point of getting to know other local mums who also run home businesses. I’ve found them mostly through word of mouth, local networking events, LinkedIn and Facebook Groups.
They are a great source of support and inspiration all year round, but during the holidays we team up to take it in terms to watch each others children, this can free up a few mornings or afternoons a week.
Use your support network
If you are lucky enough to have friends, neighbours or family around you that can help out, then don’t be afraid to ask them for help looking after the kids. It’s great fun for your children and most people enjoy having the opportunity to help you.
Look out for camps and activities
Over the holidays there are lots of camps and activities for kids that are designed to help ease the load for working parents.
These camps are a great way for kids to develop a wide-range of social, sports and creative skills too! I particularly like the ones organized by the local authority, as they are always well done and very reasonable!
Plan ahead and lighten your workload
It’s likely that you’ll have less time and focus over the school holidays, so plan ahead to do deal with this.
Adjust your workload accordingly so you don’t take on too much or agree to deadlines that might put you under pressure.
Let your clients know that you will be available a little less over the holiday period, most are very understanding.
And look for tasks that can be completed ahead of time (writing blog posts in advance and scheduling your social media posts for example).
Adapt your work schedule
When my kids were younger, I would wake up early and get an hour of focused work done before they woke up. I’d also try and plan something active for the morning, like swimming or a hike, so that they would nap for a little longer in the afternoon too.
Now they are older, I still get up and at it early in the morning and use their afternoon ‘down time’ to work.
Evenings are a good time to work too. Ask your husband if he can come home early some days during the holidays to give you some clear time to work – and as a nice bonus, he'll get some extra quality time with the kids.
Discuss different meeting ideas
When I was freelancing, I found that many clients were actually very happy to meet in the evening and discuss work over a drink in an outside bar instead of in the office during the day. Some of the working mums had sent their kids away to spend the summer with family, so were very happy to have company in the evening.
Many of the women I work with are also building businesses around their family, and so I’ve enjoyed some really fun days out together with those who have older children, taking the opportunity to discuss their business and development plans while watching the kids play and explore.
There are lots of ways to still meet people face-to-face while the kids are on holiday - you might just need to get creative, but don't be afraid to discuss your situation with your client or team members and involve them in finding a solution.
Use different planning techniques
Over the holidays I plan my time a little differently. I usually like to time-block, but with the kids around this can be tricky as schedules are often changing. Instead, I plan my tasks differently.
I use a method I’ve made up where I put all my tasks for the day/week/month into two categories: ‘Focused’ (activities where I need to concentrate) and ‘Light’ (tasks that can be done around light distraction), then I list tasks that take less than 10 minutes to do, ones that take less than 30 minutes, and tasks that need one hour or more to complete.
As I find I have time available, I can then quickly find the most relevant task to do in that situation – it’s planning on the go and it’s actually quite fun!
Hire some help
There are loads of amazing virtual assistants out there who are waiting to help you! Why not offload some of your admin tasks.
They can help with a whole range of tasks from conducting research, booking travel, helping with digital media and answering calls (because we all know that the second we pick up the phone, is the second kid-tastrophes happen, right?).
Involve the kids
Kids love to be helpful (when they are young) or earn money (when they are teenagers) so why not let them get involved in your work?
It’s also a great way for them to experience what it takes to run a successful business. There are lots of ways they can get involved. You can find some suggestions in my post: 6 Ways to Involve Your Kids in Your Business.
When On holiday
When I worked full time in an office, I relished my holidays and took the chance to switch off completely, I needed it!
But as a home business owner, my work has become part of my lifestyle and so even on holidays I like to do a little bit every day to keep the momentum in my business.
It’s never been too hard, however, to find one hour in the day when the kids can play with their Daddy so I can time to focus on doing one or two of the most important tasks.
It’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to be with my kids 365 days of the year.
As much as you try to juggle work and kids over summer, it’s always going to be more of a balancing act than it is while they’re at school. Be honest with your clients - and with yourself - about what you can realistically get done to avoid any stress.
Be sure when you have family time, that you put your work away and give your kids your undivided attention, they’ll be more understanding about the time you need to take for your business as a result.
This will also give you the chance to make some very special memories with your children - after all, that's what the holidays are really for!
What has worked for you?
What tips and tactics have you used to run your home business during the school holidays? Share them in the comments below!
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